Middle East tourism revenues surge to $29b

July 15, 2006
DUBAI (GN) – International tourism revenues grew by 5.8 percent or Dh11 billion to Dh106.43 billion ($29 billion) in the Middle East last year, according to a latest report by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO).

This represents 4 percent of the world's total tourism revenue, which last year reached Dh2.5 trillion ($682 billion) in 2005.

This also makes the Middle East the fourth largest earner of foreign exchanges from tourism, following Africa, which received $21 billion, or just three percent of the global receipt.

In terms of growth rate, Africa positioned itself as the fastest growing region with 7.8 percent, followed by the Middle East at 5.8 percent.

"Spending by tourists abroad now averages more than $2 billion a day," said the UNWTO in a statement obtained by a local news agency.

"An estimated $682 billion was spent abroad by tourists in 2005 - up $49 billion or 3.4 percent on the previous year. "If spending on foreign passenger transport of $130 billion is added, the total export spend is more than $800 billion. This represents some 6 percent of global export of all goods and services."

In comparison to receipts, international tourist arrivals grew by 5.6 percent in 2005. Africa was the fastest growing region with a 10 percent increase, followed by the Middle East growing by 9.5 percent, Asia and the Pacific by 7.8 percent, Americas 6.1 percent and Europe 4 percent. "Visitor spending continues its strong overall growth," UNWTO secretary general Francesco Frangialli said in a statement, "contributing substantially to global services exports and particularly to the overall trade balances of developing economies. Africa's 7.8 percent increase is a significant success story."

Compared to this, Dubai's tourism industry has achieved a much higher growth, making it the fastest growing market in the region.

Dubai's hotels and serviced apartments served 6.16 million guests in 2005, which is 14 percent higher compared to the previous year's figure of 5.42 million guests.

"Tourism is one of the UAE's core economic growth area, and as the region integrates with the global economy, we will see more international visitors coming to this region, that will continue the tourism sector to grow."